Fortnite Strangers

Standard

This month, Game Informer interviewed a professional Fortnite player, Cesar Sainz, who moonlights as a pro gaming coach. Imagine inviting a stranger, into your home via the Internet, and allowing them to coach your kid to be a better Fortnite player. Check out this quote from the piece:

Do you ever interact with parents at all about the lessons? Do you get a sense of what they think?

I’ve never really interacted with them. I’m just another person on the internet and they’re like “Oh, we get it.” A lot of the times when kids are around 10 or 11, we’ll speak a little at the beginning of the lesson, and they’ll say “Yeah, my son wants to get better.” It just seems like they want their kids to be super happy. Maybe they might not fully understand it but they see that being good at this game makes their kid extremely happy.

Hi, Parental Judgement here. Even through a professional coaching web site, wouldn’t you, as a parent, want to know who is speaking to your child? I’m sure that they’ve been vetted through the coaching web site but still. How about a little engagement in your child’s hobby, parents? Engagement that goes beyond opening your wallet and shoveling out money so that your kid can pay-to-win in real life.

I was talking to a friend recently. He had watched Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. He couldn’t believe how bad the movie was– for the record, I loved it!–.

“How can these people keep making the same mistakes?”

I want to know the same thing, parents. Why would you ever allow someone into your home, with a direct connection to your kids ear, without knowing who this person is? The dinosaurs keep getting out; the kids keep having bad things happen to them. Strengthen the perimeter fence, parents, and engage beyond the wallet.

Advertisements

From Across the Net – “Vancouver Canucks Ban Video Games While On The Road”

Standard

This made me smile. There is something humorous about a big boy hockey team being told video games are a no-no.

As reported by The Province, Canucks’ center and alternate captain Bo Horvat explains that video games are presenting a distraction from players interacting with each other, as they’re just playing a lot of Fortnite instead.

“Yeah, that’s definitely a no-go on the road,” Horvat said. “No more Fortnite. No more bringing video games on the road. It’s strictly team meals, team dinners and hanging out with the guys. So we put an end to that.”

You can read more here

From Across the Net – “School-Year Screen-Time Rules from a Teacher”

Standard

I enjoyed this piece, “School-Year Screen-Time Rules from a Teacher“, by Rebecca Young over at Common Sense Media.

Last year Fortnite invaded my middle school classroom — as I believe it did to middle school classrooms across the country. Students who were usually on task and high-performing were nodding off and “forgetting” to do their homework. The morning conversations about how late they stayed up or who was the last man standing became part of our early morning check-ins. Then the phone calls with parents started: Over several months, I had numerous telephone and after-school meetings with parents concerned about their kids’ performance. When I brought up screen time, there were a range of reactions. Some parents seemed oblivious as to what their children were doing after hours, some didn’t know how to rein in screen time, and some thought they had it all under control — but clearly did not.

You can read more here.

From Across the Net – “Should You Play Violent Video Games?”

Standard

The recent extended stay of Fortnite, in my house, has me questioning video game violence once more. Specifically the language we use when playing violent games. The so-called Power Rangers Effect where kids start to do ninja moves after watching the show. But instead of ninja moves, using game specific weapons when talking/playing: “I’m going to kill you with my SMG.” Dr. Schut does a great job diving into the topic of video game violence.

I wish I could give you a simple formula: do this and don’t do that. But life doesn’t usually work out so neatly. I think the lines vary from person to person, from situation to situation, from mood to mood.

You can read more of Dr. Schut’s article titled “Should You Play Violent Video Games?” over at Love Thy Nerd.

Video Games and Attitude

Standard

We have a rule in Hall household that goes something like this:

When you start to get angry or frustrated at a video game, you need to turn it off and take a break.

This rule applies to myself and to my son. Years of playing video games has taught me that taking a break, when angry or frustrated, is beneficial. Even when you are so frustrated that all you want to do is keep pushing through, I’ve found that it is best to stop. There is something taking a break does to the brain. As a kid, I remember pausing a game overnight and then being able to destroy a boss, that was previously impossible, the next day.

But what about when a game causes attitude? Anger that one can’t play longer or even has to quit? I remember a period when I was playing Mass Effect 2 a few years ago. I’d play the game late into the night, ignoring my bride, who would end up giving up and going to bed. I felt a pull while playing that game, a drive to see where the story went. Mass Effect 2 had it’s hooks in me just as World of Warcraft did years before.

I know that I can have issues with some games. Even though I haven’t been hooked on a game in awhile, I know that the right combination of design elements can take me down.

The same is true with my son. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild pushed all the right buttons for him. It was all that he and the kids at church were talking about. I’d constantly hear about the Divine Powers:

  • Revali’s Gale
  • Daruk’s Protection
  • Mipha’s Grace
  • Urbosa’s Fury

I’d hear so much about Breath of the Wild that I thought I was going to go nuts. And the attitude that came with the game, whenever he had to quit, was frustrating.

Tabitha and I find ourselves at the same attitude point again with Fortnite. But this time it’s a little different due to gaming elements Fortnite embraces (your child is being manipulated):

  1. The Store with Artificial Demand – When you log into the game, you can easily tab over to the Fortnite store. Here you can look/obsess/covet the latest in Fortnite cosmetics. Some of these cosmetics are available for a limited time, playing into an artificial demand where kids think they have to purchase something before it is gone.
  2. The Subscription with a Shady Pay-to-Win-with-Time Formula – Once you buy the $10 Battle Pass, Fortnite is all about unlocking tiers, which then unlock different cosmetics/skins/cool looking things. Fortnite developers Epic Games boasts on their website that the Battle Pass equals: 100 tiers, 100 rewards. One marketing bullet point states that it takes 75-150 hours worth of gameplay to unlock everything in the Battle Pass. Fortnite encourages players to dump as much time as they can into the game through their shady tier/unlock scheme. A pay-to-win-with-time formula, aimed at children.
  3. The Feedback Loop – A typical match takes 20 minutes to play. Unless you are knocked out of the match, in which case you can just jump into another match… and another match… and another match. This creates a feel good feedback loop for your brain. Just one more match, mom.

What is a parent to do? Here are a few things I’ve learned:

  • On the Nintendo Switch, you can set a screen time timer to help manage your child’s play. There are several options to choose from when the timer runs out, including shutting down the console (if you are feeling evil; Do not provoke your children… – Ephesians 6:4). Each console has different parental settings, read up on them, empower yourself.
  • Parent. Talk to your child about their attitude. Be ready to follow through with consequences (don’t offer empty threats). Also don’t be afraid to have your child take a day off a game.

Gaming attitude is something our parents did not have to deal with as much as we have to–although I say that while clearly remembering my Mom taking away the NES controllers–. So set some boundaries/consequences and read up/educate yourself on the tools you have at your disposal. Learn about the game your child is playing, the one you are growing to hate because of their attitude. You never know, you might learn something about your child and be able to help them set healthy boundaries to use later on in their adult lives.

You are the parent. You do not deal nor negotiate with emotional terrorism.

Gaming is a privilege, not a right. (I can’t believe I just wrote that as a dad who games.)

How are you working through your child’s attitude when it comes to games?

Parenting through the Fortnite Fog

Standard

Fortnite makes me feel old.

Let me try that again, talking with my son about Fortnite makes me feel old. Figuring out the pricing structure for the game made me feel even older.

Parenting Website Fail

My search began in the in-game Fortnite store. Tabitha and I wanted Wyatt to buy the full Fortnite game first before spending money on micro-transactions (skins/costumes). I could not find a full game unlock in the store, but I noticed something called a Battle Pass. I was confused. The parenting fog of war was beginning to set in, as I tried to pit normal video game pricing logic versus free-to-play logic. All I wanted to know is:

What is the difference between the $60 base game (I kept finding on Google) versus the $10 Battle Pass?

The information I found on parenting websites was either outdated or months old. Add in the different consoles with their different versions and the confusion only grew thicker.

After awhile, I figured out that the Nintendo Switch version is different than the Xbox and PS4 versions. The Xbox/PS4 has a $60 physical version that features an exclusive zombie mode. The Switch version, it turns out, does not have a physical version/zombie mode and only requires a $10 Battle Pass. Beginning to see the light, Wyatt and I got in the car and headed to GameStop to pick up some V-Bucks (Fortnite’s in-game currency).

Seeing the Light in GameStop

The friendly GameStop employee quickly confirmed my thoughts:

  • On the Xbox/PS4, $60 buys you a physical copy of the game that features an exclusive zombie mode.
  • A $10 Battle Pass, think subscription, allows you to play the game through a season (10 weeks). The Battle Pass gives you experience point multipliers (helps you level faster) as well as the opportunity to unlock in-game cosmetics/skins. Parents: You or your child can still play the game without a Battle Pass. You just don’t get the “fun” unlocks.
  • Instead of having the game tied to your credit card, you can buy a pre-loaded card that has money on it for your respective system. For instance: We picked up a $10 Nintendo eShop card. Keep in mind that when we bought the Battle Pass later on, the Battle Pass came out to $10.31. Yes parents, tax is involved so plan accordingly.

In the End

I’m not sure how I feel about paying $10 every 10 weeks for the ability to unlock items that are already present in the game. Maybe this is where I start to show my age; maybe all games work like this? I’d much rather pay a $60 one-time fee and be done with it though. But we’ll see how long the Fortnite craze holds in the Hall household. Right now, I’m looking at opening my own account on the PS4 in order to play with Wyatt. I’ll report back, at some point, with my Fortnite impressions. Until then, play all the games or not.

When was the last time your kid/s made you feel old?

Surf Report: A Recap of the Week of September 23

Standard

Welcome to the Surf Report for the Week of September 23.

.: God:

God has been teaching me quite a bit when it comes to the Bible study I’ve been leading on Wednesday nights. He has been teaching me to remember:

  • Not everyone is a Christian AND not all Christians are at the same place in their walk with God.
  • To not take personally the people who choose to come and go. Attendance has been inconsistent/up and down.
  • To lead. That it doesn’t matter how much older the rest of the guys are, I’m there to facilitate discussion and lead the group.

I wrote a bit about some of our discussion this week in “How do you de-stress?” Also had a friend send me a link to a video that I found helpful in studying 1 John (which we’ve been going over on Wednesday nights).

.: Life:

This week I found out that there are Josh Groban fans. I learned that I should never talk bad about a character Josh Groban plays (especially on Twitter). Ah, the Internet. You can read my thoughts on Josh Groban’s new project in “Things to Avoid – The Good Cop“.

Also spent some time in a clinic last week, wrote about that experience in “Missing the Firetwuck“.

.: Gaming:

My week has been completely devoid of video games. But I did re-post a Tim Challies article from awhile back (“From Across the Net – ‘Christian Men and Their Video Games’“). His article reminded me of the Christian tension of being in the world but not of the world. Got me thinking of debates I’ve been a part of over the years. Debates on Christian liberty, discernment, and the almost Christian desire to have everything spelled out in black and white.

There are definitely games fellow believers shouldn’t touch. The Bible, the Holy Spirit, family and friends help us navigate what we should and should not consume.

Question of the Week: Do you think Fortnite’s timed cosmetic purchases are predatory towards young kids?

That’s it for this week. If you have any thoughts you’d like to share, don’t hesitate to post them in the comments below. Have a great weekend!